This past Monday, Winnipeg's newest auto store opened for business. The stand-alone Porsche Centre of Winnipeg has been under construction since last spring.
"After 10 months of construction, distractions and confusion, we finally have our dream facility," says Gerald Boiteau, the dealership's general manager. "This building is a showcase for Porsche in Winnipeg."
The new Porsche store, which measures about 8,000 square feet, stands on the spot on Pembina Highway that used to be the body shop for Auto Haus Volkswagen Porsche.
"Porsche Centre of Winnipeg is intended to be a boutique store in the European tradition," Boiteau says. "The interior walls are in dark shades to better highlight the models. As in a jewelry store, the spotlights are shining directly on the cars, which are the stars."
The new store will have a six-car showroom with the finest furnishings and a full-service and parts department. One prominent feature, Boiteau says, will be a "fitting lounge" where customers can custom-order their Porsches.
There is also a boutique area with high-end, Porsche-themed gift items for your special somebody. "Shopping for gifts here will be like shopping on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles," Boiteau says.
He notes all staff members in the new facility, whether in sales, service or parts, are fully Porsche factory-certified.
Boiteau says the dealership's grand opening will be sometime in early May. "It will be a memorable event," he says, "but we need to have good weather for it."
He reports that despite the disruption resulting from construction, the dealership enjoyed a record year in 2012 for Porsche sales in Winnipeg.
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Ali Abu Kweik, an 11-year sales veteran, joined the Murray Chevrolet team in mid-February. Abu Kweik has been strictly a General Motors sales rep.
"I'm very happy to be working for Murray Chev," he says. "The owner and management team are fantastic."
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Readers watching the upcoming Gordie Howe biopic on CBC, Mr. Hockey, may have a hard time recognizing Gerry Gordon Mazda sales rep Ernie Foort in the movie. He will be the guy playing the Detroit sportscaster wearing the Afro and the polyester suit.
On March 10, he will look resplendent in an RCMP uniform in his role in Smiling Jack, the CBC biopic of the late Jack Layton.
The five-year Gerry Gordon Mazda sales veteran has been doing occasional acting gigs for television and movies filmed in Canada for more than 15 years.
His first exposure on the big screen, he recalls, was as an extra in the movie, Bird on a Wire, starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, which was filmed in Vancouver.
"I had been doing some modelling on the West Coast," he says. "After watching Mel and Goldie do 15 takes, I said to myself that I could do that."
Among his 30 or so acting credits are roles in the TV series The X Files, Framed and The Highlander.
Foort says his seven-year-old daughter, Autumn Baker-Foort, is also forging a bit of a career in front of the cameras. "She had a role in October in the movie starring Samuel L. Jackson that was filmed here last October, and appeared in a commercial for Manitoba Health.